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East Bengal have hit rock-bottom in their 100th year

07:55 EAT 08/02/2020
East Bengal vs Aizawl FC
Former coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia has done a great disservice to the club in their milestone year…

With five defeats in their last six matches, East Bengal are just three points above the relegation zone after the half-way stage of the I-League 2019-20 season.

The Red and Golds started the new year with three consecutive defeats then came back briefly with a convincing 2-0 win over Chennai City but they once again suffered back to back home defeats against Indian Arrows and Aizawl FC.

It must be noted that this was only the second game where Mario Rivera sat on the dugout as the club’s head coach. The Spaniard is yet to train the side for even a week. So there is no question of pointing fingers at the newly appointed manager of the club as yet.

Just like the Indian Arrows game, the Kolkata giants looked pale and toothless. The players couldn’t even string four meaningful passes at a stretch and were completely blunt in the opposition’s half.

Rivera did not name under-fire defender Marti Crespi in the matchday squad. The all-Indian backline did their best and had kept Aizawl’s foreign strike duo silent for most of the game.

The foreigners along with some of the senior Indian players were, as usual, erratic and did not have any impact in the match. The callous attitude was pretty much the reason why East Bengal looked bleak for 90 minutes.

Looking at this side’s performance, one had to wonder if this team had any plan whatsoever. Alejandro Menendez Garcia was in charge of this team right from the beginning of the season. Every single signing was done by the coach himself including the selection of foreign players.

The coach did not take the ‘pre-season tournaments’ Calcutta Football League (CFL) and Durand Cup seriously as he had claimed that he was building the team for the bigger stage, I-League. Menendez had even held closed-door training sessions during pre-season as he did not want anyone to see his team-building process.

East Bengal players lacked coordination amongst them on the pitch and their positioning was often a big let down.

The former Real Madrid Castilla manager had a very good debut season where he had almost guided the team to the I-League title. He became a fan favourite and a sensation among fans. He was given a freehand by the managed to get the unfinished job done in the second season and he has failed miserably.

Menendez made this team and then midway into the season he walked out. When the pressure mounted, the Spaniard left the team in disarray. Though, as per reports, Menendez decided it was not safe for his family after club officials were manhandled after the Gokulam Kerala loss. Whatever be the rationale behind the decision, it left the club and the team he promised to build in the lurch. 

It was a disservice to the club and the fans who backed him to the hilt. A case could be made as to whether Menendez helped sour East Bengal's milestone centenary year.